Our Complicated Relationships with Animals

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels: ,

My family and I have many animals living in our home.  Our cat named Cinder, ball python named Hiss, and two parakeets, Helios and Phoebe (so named after the sun God Helios and His legendary chariot, Phoebus, meaning "shining."  Lil' Phoebe is all yellow, get it?), as well as our daughter's gerbil, Storm.  We have also, in our time, cared for a beloved dog, rabbit, a second gerbil, a third parakeet, two hamsters, a baby robin, a guinea pig, a massive cricket, and three cats (in this house, that is). 

But none of them are pets.  At least, I don't call them pets.  To me a "pet" is a critter you have around to entertain you, to name "Mrs. Snuggle-Wuggle-Kins," and put funny hats on at the holidays.  And they're not my babies (I have two of them already!).  All our animals came here after they no longer needed the care of a mother, so it's a rather moot point to insist on being "mommy" to them.  Plus, they all did have mommies.  Cinder's six-breasted mother was a lot better at feeding and cleaning him and his siblings than I could be.  Why compete?

Maybe that opinion is a little skewed, but my point remains that I don't acknowledge any owner in our relationship.  Our animals live here, play here, and get cared for, kept safe, and loved by all of us, but they are their own beings.  Almost all of the animals we've ever had here were rescues.  The rest showed an affinity to one or more of us before coming to live here.  I think it's only fair to give an animal the option to stay or go, like I would anyone else in my life.

This gets a little tricky when I think of all the traditional bits of magic that can be worked on animals/pets.  In addition to the standard spells with the aid of an animal, there's also spells to keep a cat from straying, to make a pet loyal, to turn an animal into a familiar (in the case of the spell I have, by placing a low-level spirit within the animal's body, like assisted possession), etc. make me question my standard attitude that all magic has merit within the context of the need which formed it.

So though Cinder missed us like mad when we went on vacation, and refused to cease meowing when we returned until he finally lost his voice, I've never felt that I had the right to force his loyalty or compel him stay home all the time.  Like a love spell, I can understand using magic to create artificial closeness in a more casual relationship, but not with someone who lives, eats, and sleeps with you. 

The exception to this rule of mine, of course, is protection from danger.  While I understand an animal's desire (and right) to come and go as it pleases them, I would never suggest it if it were dangerous to the animal.  We live near a road with infrequent but fast-moving cars and trucks.  That's part of the "charm" of country living--everyone knows there's no police nearby so they use the road as their personal Autobahn.  Poor Cinder has had to endure staying indoors for the past two weeks, while the absolutely lovely weather is calling him by name, because I needed to wait for the right timing to recharge his protection talisman.  When he has that, I don't fear him going out to play in the fields and chase grasshoppers.  Without it, even a solitary bask in a sunny grassy spot seems, to me, fraught with danger. 

Though keeping those I love safe and happy is always at the top of my list of important responsibilities, I am forced to reconcile this with the knowledge that our animals--like our children--may someday choose to go their own way without concern for those who gave them love and shelter for years. 

That's just the nature of life, though, and a witch never runs from life.


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About Me

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My name is Quill and I've been practicing witchcraft for the past 17 years. 10 of those years I've been reading tarot and teaching.  I own a shop on Etsy called Quill's Occult Supply (check it out at QuillsOccultSupply.Etsy.com) full of handmade ritual and decorative items, spell components, and wild picked herbs.

I love to work with my hands.  Magic is a tool to shape our lives, and I'm using magic to shape tools to shape magic.  Cosmic! 

I use a lot of my favorite things in my shop: herbs, candles, wood, fabric, paint, clay.  And I get to carve, burn, grind, mold, think, dream ... I'm in the perfect business!

I've written 3 manuscripts for publication (2 non-fiction and 1 fiction) and am an avid NaNo-er!  I and my husband run a local coven called Orbis Prosapia, and our children are growing up surrounded by magic, mythology, fairy tales, Earth worship, art, open discussion, music, and humor. 

In addition to working on Ex Penna about my experiences as a professional witch, I also write for Scenes from the Circle about being a coven leader. 

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